Almost the definition of an auteur, Russ Meyer was on the one hand a first-rate cameraman (he filmed for the army in WWII) and a remarkably deft editor and, whilst striving always to entertain, he spent a lifetime exploring an obsessive personal vision in films about strong women. On the other hand, these women all have improbably large breasts, which are usually bare, and in ridiculous paper-thin backwoods plots they are subjected to violence and rape by macho men, though they always fight back, and watch out the weakling!
His penultimate feature, Up! is a cornucopia of Meyerist lunacy, with more blood and nudity than ever before, fantastically elongated prosthetic penises (in teasing glimpses), the magnificent Raven de la Croix doing her best Mae West impersonation, and a piranha-in-the-bathtub murder (the victim: a distinctively mustachioed Adolf “Schwarz”).
Will the villain be Eva Braun Jr? Or perhaps hulking backwards backwoodsman Rafe? What about sleazy Leonard Box? The action is frequently interrupted by joyous scenes of idyllic rural love-making, and regular recaps from the irrepressible Kitten Natividad as a leather-booted Greek chorus, the perfect hostess for such mythologically fetishistic excess. With a frolicsome pace, a consistently amusing script by none other than Roger Ebert, a sense that Meyer has perfected his form, and just plain good film-making, it’s a masterpiece, of sorts.